Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis undermines the expertise from AP African American Studies


Gabby Miller, Reporter

On February 1, 2023, or the first day of Black History Month, the College Board delivered the accredited framework for the AP African American Studies course. Explained by College Board Communications, “AP African American Studies is an interdisciplinary course that draws from a variety of fields—history, literature, the arts, geography, science—to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans… this is a course that offers direct engagement with evidence and events.” 

In my freshman year, my academic ambition grew as I excelled in my standard-level classes. I wanted to challenge myself in school by taking three honors classes in the following year. Even so, I was required to get approval by signature from my teachers, especially in English and Math. One teacher stated that I would flourish as an honors student, but another claimed that I may not be ready for the change. Ultimately, I maintained my commitment towards succeeding in honors classes, and I did not shy away from taking an AP class or two.

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program was created by the College Board to provide college-level courses to high schools across the nation. Each class gives high school students the opportunity to earn college credit by giving out a standardized exam in May each year. By receiving a successful score on an AP exam, students are not only granted permission to skip initial courses, but also the ability to stand out to colleges and universities around the country. 

Chandler High senior Annie Payne has pursued many AP and Honors core classes throughout her high school career. She explains, “I find it more challenging for myself and I like how the classes are fast-paced and more advanced. I like to be around people who have the same drive as me.” Annie believes that being an AP student will not only benefit her education, but it may also prepare for face real-world challenges as a young adult.

A month before the release, Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis sent a letter to the College Board Florida Partnership, expressing his extreme distaste towards the course proposal. According to CBS News, his administration argued that the content is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” In addition, the Florida Department of Education explicitly stated that it does not want the AP course to be taught at any public high schools. 

Although the course release will mark the first high school class that demands a complex understanding of African American history and culture, AP African American Studies should not be treated with such hesitancy. It is unfair that Florida officials are blocking a rigorously-formed curriculum from their AP students. Young scholars should not hold back from pursuing their subjects of interest. Despite the letter’s claims, the official framework was developed by over three hundred African American Studies professors and various high school teachers in this country. Also, it was not specified in which state law was being violated. Clearly, the political stance of DeSantis’s administration is intruding on Florida’s public education and censoring a historical moment. 

Although the AP course has sparked outrage in Florida, AP African American Studies is set on being released in 2024. The contributions of African Americans have been overlooked in the school system for far too long. All high schools across the country will, at last, provide students with the opportunity to deeply grasp the understanding of African American history. It is time that DeSantis and other conservatives put their subjective values aside and embrace this historical moment.